November 3, 2006 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Friends, Getting a Life, Travels | 2 Comments

To get to Bagasbas, you have to endure a grueling 9-hour bus ride to Daet, Camarines Norte from either Superlines or Philtranco in Cubao. And that 9 hours mainly involves smooth, hassle-free traffic, so a day trip is out of the question if you want to get some rest on your way there.


We left Manila at about 10pm last Friday and got to Daet 6 am the following day. Iona, her brother RJ, Eileen, her boyfriend Rico and their friend Rob was the contingent. A couple of UPM buds flaked on me and missed out on everything the place had to offer.

We were housed at the Surf Shack, which is the official hangout of the CNSA — Camarines Norte Surfers Association. There I met some interesting people — Sisco, Baker, Jong, 11-year-old Duke and other surfer dudes — they were the real thing. They live and breathe for that perfect wave. Surf Shack, where they usually gather is a small hut with the walls open, with a loft on the second floor which you can only reach with a detachable bamboo stairs and a sliding door, which was where we kept our stuff most of the time.

On Saturday I was introduced to the spunky contraption called the bodyboard , which is the essential tool for beginners like me and my company. It’s a rubberized board half the size of ordinary surfboards reaching about to above your waist standing up. It also has a leash which you keep tied around your wrist in case you’re wiped out. You ride it just when the waves hit and you lie belly down on it and the wave, if you’re good at timing, will rush you forward towards the beach.

It was something new, and I had a hard time adjusting but Baker and company said it should be enough for me since I don’t swim. They promised me I wouldn’t drown. True enough, no matter how hard you try the board won’t stay down. It floats, so I felt safe hitting the waves.
I was obviously having fun, shrieking everytime I hit the waves. “So are you having fun yet?” asks Iona and I would say, straight-faced, “No.” It was our little joke. The whole morning of Saturday was thus spent getting used to the bodyboards and staking out the stretch of the beach. There were people around, to be sure. Dark sand and strong currents. And there we were, four brand new souls getting introduced to the wonders of surfing — me, Rob, Eileen and Rico.

We had lunch at a place called Angel’s where we feasted on succulent seafood and generous servings of mango shake. It was filling, and I swear I couldn’t even move after eating.

On Saturday night we were living la vie boheme. I can’t even imagine the last time I was that relaxed. It was as if it was within my power to leave everything behind and go with the flow. No romance, no work, no family, no nothing to think about. It is not escapism, it is serenity. And yes, there was plenty of “that” to go around too.

On Sunday we hauled ass over to San Jose. It was breathtaking. Imagine this — miles upon miles of beach stretching out before you, and not a single soul in sight. I think I stayed int eh water the longest. Sisco taught me to face my fear of the water and learn how to whitewater board. 6-footer waves became the norm for me and soon I was riding waves after waves. It was a step in the right direction.

Getting cocky though, is not. Though I had been taught the safety precautions to take, I slipped. I was wading through knee-deep water and getting ready to position myself when a wave caught me. My board had floated towards in front of me and hit my jaw smack up the line and I thought I’d cut my tongue or something. My jaw ached until I got home.
But anyway, Uncle Leo hosted us and his wife Ate Ana wouldn’t let up until I sampled her sinigang. Nice. Their house was on a hill overlooking the San Jose beach and as usual there were plenty of rhum to go around. And brandy. And gin. And good laughs. Sisco rode a wave. It meant the waves were good because he rarely makes an appearance nowadays.

We got back into Bagasbas by 7pm and we were supposed to catch the 9pm trip to Manila, while Iona and RJ stayed behind. The prevailing mood was for us to stay, and it was as I call it, a matter of hatakan. We were won over. We had dinner at Uncle Leo’s resto, where to our surprise, we were charged a total of zero pesos. I was so embarrassed. Mental note — bring more people to Uncle Leo’s place, as an act of goodwill.
The best part of the night was crashing the Bagasbas airport and lying on the tarmac with Orion in the night sky watching over us. It was at that point that I felt most liberated. No schedules to run after, no policemen to shoo us away and out of the tarmac, no deadlines, we could have stayed there all night. But at 5am we left the Shack to catch the first bus out of Daet, and got back to Manila by 3pm. I guess we all knew we had to give in to the call of duties, which at this point is still stronger than the pull of any ocean there is.
A part of me is sad because I had to go back to what passes for “real life”. And yet I am thankful because I got to spend time with some very wonderful characters. Rob was a revelation. I think the guy enjoyed himself the most, and I think he deserved it more than anybody anyway. I was next in line. And Paeng spared us, by the way. It was expected to make landfall in the Bicol area but instead zoomed right on over to Northern Luzon. I guess the sunburn which is still peeling up to now, was worth it.
But there is something to be said about getaways and how they impact your life no matter how short your trip may have been. Getaways like Bagasbas refresh the soul, prepare you for the battles you have to wage sooner or later. Whcih is why when you’re weary, you have to find them again. No matter how long it takes you. You need it. I need it. And I’m going back.



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  1. hey vincent, i love this piece! reading it, i felt like i wanted to be there, too! post ka naman ng pics. dapat hatakin mo rin ako sa Bagasbas pag-uwi ko diyan, perhaps around early january :–)

  2. hey tony. believe me, it was worth it. met up last night with the gods from bagasbas, actually. if my sked allows sasama kami sa la union in december, may competition, manonood kami, hehehehe.

    if you’re going home in january hope you can stay long enough until around feb when we plan to go back.

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